Hear and Now


Helping children who may have been sexually abused

Hear and Now is a new approach that provides therapeutic support to children and young people who may have been affected by sexual abuse.

The service aims to help address the behavioural and emotional difficulties faced by children and young people who are displaying worrying signs that something is wrong and sexual harm is a background feature.



How it works

How Hear and Now works

Weekly sessions aim to help children resolve traumatic experiences they may not have told anyone about. We explain that they can use the time to work out their feelings, so we can help them feel better.

We see children aged 4 to 18 in our specially designed service centres. Each child will be assigned an experienced social worker trained in therapeutic work.

Sometimes children don’t understand their feelings and don’t have the words to describe how they feel. Writing, storytelling and art are all things that children and young people of any age can use to help them understand and express feelings that they can’t put into words. Younger children can also do things like messy play.

Sessions are tailored to meet each child’s individual needs. Building a therapeutic relationship is central and, over time, they will get to know us and learn to trust us with their worries and concerns.


The aims of Hear and Now are to:

  • help children feel better
  • understand why they feel the way they do
  • learn that adults can be trusted
  • help them understand how to seek help.

We also talk to their parents or carers to help the whole family. They’re offered some individual support sessions and may also attend sessions together with the child.

Evidence base

The evidence base

NSPCC research identified a lack of service provision for the early-help needs of children who may be vulnerable or affected by sexual abuse (Brown, O’Donnell and Erooga, 2011). These children may not have disclosed any sexual abuse, but they may display worrying signs that something is wrong and sexual harm is a background feature.

An NSPCC study into disclosures of childhood abuse indicated that children and young people want people to notice that something is wrong and ask them if they are alright, rather than waiting for the young person to speak up first (Allnock and Miller, 2013).

Hear and Now was developed to help children and young people where there are concerns about sexual abuse. The aim of this service is to offer a trauma-focused intervention to help children and young people explore and minimise the impact of any abuse they might have experienced, rather than focusing on the abuse itself. It draws on the tools used in our Letting the Future In service, which has been shown to be effective in helping children who have experienced sexual abuse (Carpenter et al, 2016).

Who it is for

Who is Hear and Now for?

Hear and Now provides therapeutic support to children aged 4-18 whom professionals are concerned about. The child must meet one of the following criteria:

  • has been in contact with a known individual or alleged person who poses a risk of sexual harm
  • has a history of disclosure and retraction
  • has a history of sexual abuse in their extended family
  • be seen as withdrawn, depressed or isolated
  • has a gang member in the family
  • be a sibling of a child who has disclosed or retracted sexual abuse
  • has been identified by professionals or services as having problems and/or being at risk due to their vulnerability or behaviour.

Evaluation of Hear and Now

The University of Bristol has completed an initial (unpublished) study into how Hear and Now is working in practice and its feasibility for evaluation.

The findings from this research will be used to inform the further development of the service.